Transforming Legal Aid: Next Steps

Overview

Nearly 16,000 responses were received following the Transforming Legal Aid consultation published in April. In addition to these, the Ministry of Justice held 14 stakeholder events throughout the consultation period. The responses are summarised at Annex B.

All views expressed have been carefully considered and it is on the basis of these that the proposals set out in Part 1 have been determined. In the case of two of the original Transforming Legal Aid proposals – those to introduce competitive tendering and our proposed reforms to criminal advocacy fees – it was decided to undertake a second phase of consultation on refined proposals.


The KPMG report of 25 February 2014 has been republished on 14 March 2014. In the republished document, the table on page 53 of the report has been amended. The following changes have been made to the figures on average duty contract size (£m):

  • ‘Non-London total without further inspection’: original range of min 0.16 to max 0.47 changed to min 0.47 to max 0.40.
  • ‘Non-London total with further inspection’: original range of min 0.18 to max 0.42 changed to min 0.42 to max 0.40.
  • ‘London 9 areas (2 entrants)’: original range of min 0.19 to max 0.80 changed to min 0.80 to max 0.62.
  • ‘London 32 areas (2 entrants)’: original range of min 0.19 to max 0.38 changed to min 0.38 to max 0.27.

The analysis and conclusions in the report were based on the figures on page 49 so these changes have no impact on the remainder of the report.


On 3 October we published an updated version of the further consultation document and Annexes G and H to address questions from practitioners and make some corrections.

In light of these clarifications and amendments, we have decided to extend the consultation deadline by ten working days. As a result, the consultation will now end on 1 November.  We encourage all interested stakeholders to engage constructively in this process.

Summary of amendments:

  • Paragraphs 3.61 and 3.65 of Chapter 3 of the document have been updated to reflect the clarifications already communicated regarding VAT and travel and subsistence disbursements.
  • Annex B: The title of Table B1 has been amended to reflect accurately the contents of the table.
  • Annex E: Table E2 has been updated to include the revised travel and subsistence rates for family solicitors.
  • Annex G: Table G2 has been updated to show both current rates and proposed reduced rates for work within the scope of the current 2010 Standard Crime Contract following the first proposed 8.75% reduction in early 2014. The earlier version only showed the current rates.
  • Annex G: A new Table G4 has been added setting out for clarity the proposed Non-Standard Fee Thresholds described at paragraphs 3.62 and 3.63 of Chapter 3 that would apply under the proposed modified model.  This reflects a 17.5% reduction on the current Higher Standard Fee Limit.
  • Option 1 for a revised advocacy fee scheme set out in Chapter 4 of the document proposes the harmonisation of fees for guilty and cracked trials to, in each specific case, a fee which sits between the existing cracked and guilty fees. Whilst this is clearly stated at paragraph 4.6 of Chapter 4, a small number of the proposed basic fee rates set out in the tables in Annex H were lower than the existing guilty plea basic fees (for offence types E, F and G for QC, Leading Juniors and Led Juniors). We have therefore amended those figures in Table H1.
  • There was a transcription error for some of the advocates’ fees set out in Annex H. We have amended the basic fees as set out in Table H1 (some of the Junior Alone basic fees) and Table H2 (some of the Led Junior and Junior Alone basic fees) accordingly.

Please note that the fees at paragraph 3.61, 3.65 and table G3 in Annex G include VAT.  All other fees exclude VAT.  Please note, as proposed at paragraph 3.73, the cost of any travel and subsistence disbursements would be remunerated separately.  However, the figures stated at paragraphs 3.61 and 3.65 include the average claim cost of travel and subsistence disbursements. The proposed fees excluding the cost of travel and subsistence disbursements would be £192.54 (including VAT) for the proposed national fixed fee for police station work and £310.45 (including VAT) for the proposed national fixed fee for magistrates’ court work. Note, the £310.45 magistrates' court work fee includes the travel and waiting time component, where it is paid. We have also updated the Impact Assessment for the Procurement of Criminal Legal Aid Services to include a revised Table 2.


Footnotes are contained within the 'more information' sections on each page.

Please be aware that on the evening of 6 September the following corrections were made to the previously published version of the consultation document:

  • Revisions to paragraph 4.14.
  • Additional text added below the table on page 269 (Annex I)
  • The tables in Annex I have been revised.
  • A small number of typographic errors were corrected.

Related Documents

Results

We received 2,317 responses to the Transforming Legal Aid: Next Steps consultation from a variety of respondents including solicitors, barristers, representative bodies, the Judiciary, and members of the public.
 
The document sets out the Government Response to consultation. In summary the key decisions are to:
 

  • Reduce litigators’ fees in a phased manner and continue with the slower implementation timetable for new criminal legal aid Duty Provider Work contracts in order to give the market more time to prepare. An initial reduction of 8.75% would apply to new cases starting on or after 20 March, and the next reduction would not apply until the following year.
  • Introduce a new model of tendering for Duty Provider Work to achieve value for money and make sure there is always help available for people questioned or charged with a crime. As part of this we will allow an unlimited number of Own Client Work contracts for those meeting quality standards so people can choose their own provider or opt for the Duty Provider. Duty slots will be allocated through a tight contracting mechanism based on quality and capacity to ensure that only firms, or groups of firms, which demonstrate clearly they have the capability to operate in this more challenging financial environment. Following specialist advice from Otterburn Legal Consulting and KPMG LLP there will be 525 of these contracts (the maximum of the range advised by consultants) available.
  • Implement a new, simplified, version of the Advocates Graduated Fee Scheme (AGFS) and reduce barristers’ fees by, on average, 6%: We are implementing Option 2.
     

Update - 27 March 2014

Transforming Legal Aid

  1. Following discussions with the leaders of the Bar and the Law Society, the Government has agreed a number of measures to help  criminal legal aid lawyers as they prepare for the necessary legal aid savings and market restructuring.
     
  2. As a consequence, the leadership of the Bar will call off their ‘No Returns’ Policy and there will be no further days of action.  The Bar Council and the CBA will also make clear that there is no in principle objection to working on VHCC cases at the new rates.
     
  3. The Government will defer changes to the Advocates Graduated Fee Scheme until Summer 2015, to align with the second fee reduction for litigators.  This will allow us to take into account the outcomes of the reviews by Sir Bill Jeffrey and Sir Brian Leveson, as well as any impact on legal aid spend from falling crime rates, and earlier remuneration changes. In the same way, we will consider any impact from the above factors before introducing the second fee reduction for litigators.
     
  4. In addition to the transitional support measures already secured by The Law Society, including specialist guidance from the LAA and access to government backed commercial lending through the British Business Bank, the Ministry of Justice will also bring forward interim payments for litigators at Plea and Case Management Hearing stage during this Summer.

The Government will continue to engage with the Bar Council, CBA, Circuit Leaders and the Law Society.

Details for advocates (PDF)

Details for litigators (PDF)

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Key Dates

Consultation is Closed

Ran from 5 Sep 2013 to 1 Nov 2013

Other Information

Audience:

  • Citizens,
  • Voluntary organisations,
  • Litigants,
  • Charities,
  • Government departments,
  • Legal professionals,
  • Judiciary,
  • Police,
  • Prosecutors,
  • Offenders,
  • Victims,
  • Legal professional bodies

Interests:

  • Legal aid